In April 2019, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Ras el-‘Amud neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8495; map ref. 222699–740/630698–757; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a playground. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation, was directed by R. Cohen, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), N. Sandouka (antiquities inspection), S. Halevi (surveying, photography and photogrammetric documentation), I. Delerson and O. Rose (plans), M. Samhouri (replacement director) and laborers from a manpower company.
The excavation was conducted in a public open area in el-Madras Street, next to the main sports field on the western slope of the Mount of Olives in the Silwan neighborhood. During archaeological inspection, a fill of modern waste mixed with ancient finds was removed, exposing an underlying ancient quarry.
The Survey of Jerusalem Map documented burial caves, architectural remains, cisterns, agricultural installations and rock-hewn installations in and around Ras el-‘Amud (Kloner 2001: Sites 496–508). Several salvage excavations conducted in the vicinity since 2000, have uncovered ancient remains, mostly dating from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Byzantine period (Zilberbod 2008; Be’eri and Zilberbod 2011; Zilberbod 2012; ‘Adawi 2013a; ‘Adawi 2013b; Zilberbod 2016).
The excavation exposed the western part of an ancient quarry (7.5–11.0 × 30.0 m; Figs. 2–4) of the simple stepped-quarry type (Safrai and Sasson 2001:4); the quarry extended eastward beyond the current excavation area. The area is characterized by chalk Menuha Formation rock of the Mount Scopus Group.
In the center of the excavation (L106, L108; Figs. 5, 6), three layers of fills and accumulations overlying the quarry were excavated (Fig. 7). The lowest layer consisted of light-colored soil mixed with quarrying debris that was probably deliberately dumped on the floor of the disused quarry (not excavated down to bedrock). The hewn quarrying steps were distinctly visible here, in the deepest part of the quarry, although the quarry floor was not entirely uncovered here due to excavation constraints. The dimensions of the extracted stone blocks (L108; 0.4 × 0.6 m) are similar to stone blocks from other quarries. A small quarrying courtyard (L107) northeast of L108, was a kind of ‘quarrying basin’, with quarrying marks that probably attest to the cutting of uniform-sized stones (Fig. 8). It was covered over by a layer of building waste and garbage (thickness c. 0.9 m) which had accumulated over the years, and by an overlying layer of modern refuse and building debris (thickness c. 1.7 m) that had deliberately been dumped here.
The northern part of the quarry (L100; Fig. 9) exhibited quarrying channels that narrow downwards (width 0.10–0.16 m). Stone blocks (length c. 0.6 m) were probably cut from the southern part of L100, and larger blocks (length c. 1.4 m) may have been quarried from the higher northern part. Several quarrying channels (width 8–9 cm) and partially detached stones were found in the southern part of the quarry (L102, L103; Fig. 10, 11).
The similarity of the quarry to other ancient quarries in and around Jerusalem, suggests that it may have operated from the end of the Second Temple period until the beginning of the Early Islamic period.
‘Adawi Z. 2013a. Jerusalem, Ras el-‘Amud (A). HA–ESI 125.
‘Adawi Z. 2013b. Jerusalem, Ras el-‘Amud (B). HA–ESI 125.
Be‘eri R. and Zilberbod I. 2011. A Middle Bronze Age Settlement at Ras al-‘Amud. Qadmoniot 142:74–77 (Hebrew).
Kloner A. 2001. Survey of Jerusalem: The Northeastern Sector (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Safrai Z. and Sasson A. 2001. Quarrying and Quarries in the Land of Israel in the Period of the Mishnah and Talmud. Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Zilberbod I. 2008. Jerusalem, Ras el-‘Amud. HA–ESI 120.
Zilberbod I. 2012. Jerusalem, Ras el-‘Amud. HA–ESI 124.
Zilberbod I. 2016. Jerusalem, Ras el-‘Amud. HA–ESI 128.